©Michele L. Catanese
Note: Next entry will be on January 2, 2017.
1. I chose to use this Advent wreath to begin since we have four full weeks of Advent this year. It seems to be a humble depiction of the candles: the darkness of the hour and the light beckoning us to joyful expectation at the lateness of the season.
2. This is a painting called Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence (also known as The Adoration) by Caravaggio. Unfortunately this painting was stolen, cut out of its frame, in 1969 and has never been recovered. That is a shame because it is stunning in its beauty. I chose this painting because of the humility of the scene. The setting in a stable within the cave is obvious, and everyone in the photo, including the angel, humbly adores the Child. I also chose this because of my reference in the text to Franciscan spirituality: St. Francis is placed within this painting, possibly because he is said to have created the first crèche in history. Admittedly, I am unsure of why St. Lawrence is in the scene, except that he was a Franciscan archdeacon. In researching the painting, it seems Caravaggio painted it for a church in Sicily called San Lorenzo, so that may be why St. Lawrence is so prominent in this scene. For a bit more information go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_with_St._Francis_and_St._Lawrence and also
3. This is a very touching icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called Mother of God Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. It is an icon which also depicts the deep humility of Mary. Her head is covered; she seems to be pulling her cloak over her head as if she is gesturing the truth of being the handmaid of the Lord. Her eyes seem to be on the Scripture which she is holding, showing her familiarity with the Word. If you are interested in a copy you can purchase this icon (in a variety of formats) at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-mother-of-god-overshadowed-by-the-holy-spirit-118-william-hart-mcnichols.html
4. I took this photo of the stained glass window at the Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem, Israel. This is the place in the hill country mentioned by Luke in his gospel where Elizabeth lived and gave birth to John the Baptist. I chose this because one can see Elizabeth greeting Mary, probably saying, "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" And yet Mary is the one with bowed head in the greatest humility. I was so impressed by the humble stance of Mary that I felt I had to take this photo.
5. This mosaic was in the Church of St. Joseph with is almost next door to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel. I have never seen an image of Joseph quite like this one. He is not only holding the child Jesus, but he is holding the scroll of the Scriptures. I chose this (beside the fact that it is beautiful) because it is consistent with the icon (image 3, above) by Fr. Bill McNichols. In each icon, Mary and Joseph are holding fast to the Scriptures. This shows their steadfast trust in the promises of God.
6. This is a photo of part of my own crèche. I chose to use it, even though it seems odd that Mary and Joseph are staring at an empty crib. I do not intend any kind of humor here. Rather, I took the photo intentionally. First, it shows our heightened awareness of waiting for the baby Jesus to arrive. Second and the more important intention is that Joseph is holding the lamp which I highlighted in the text. (Notice his right hand.) I have seen Joseph depicted that way in many Nativity scenes. He is lighting the way for the Light of the World, who at that point is a lowly little Child, totally vulnerable.
7. Finally a simple yet stunning icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-nativity-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-034-william-hart-mcnichols.html
I chose to end the entry with this because Christmas is coming at the end of this week, so we will have Jesus in our crèches at long last. ~ If you are like me, I do not put the Baby into the crib until Dec. 24 at sundown. That is my personal ritual so that throughout Advent I am longing to see Him there. The scene is intentionally incomplete until He arrives. ~ Also in the icon, note the candle in the hand of Joseph. Once again he is carrying the light, but here it is a thin, humble candle further symbolizing humility. The final reason I chose this is the humility of the scene: a simple cave, the parents and the Child. No one else has arrived yet, so this is their moment of intimacy with Jesus. May your Christmas be filled with the intimacy of this scene so that your heart may be enriched with joy and peace! Blessed Christmas to all!